The New York Academy of Medicine recognizes reporting on health disparities, toxic stress, community and personal health, and the Zika virus and how they impact urban health

New York (May 30, 2017) – The New York Academy of Medicine announced today that Jay Hancock, Senior Correspondent of Kaiser Health News (KHN) is the winner of the 2017 Urban Health Journalism Prize for his lead role in the 2016 project, “Health Care in Freddie Gray’s Neighborhood: Baltimore’s Other Divide.”

The award will be presented at the Academy Gala on June 13 in New York City, and comes with a cash prize of $5,000. Additionally, three journalists were named finalists in this competitive process including Nancy Cambria, for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Michael Cooper for the Springfield News-Sun, and Liz Szabo for USA Today. The winner and finalists were selected by a prestigious committee of journalism, government and urban health leaders. Alana Semuels of The Atlantic, the 2016 Urban Health Journalism Prize winner, and a member of the Selection Committee, will present the award on June 13.

A leader in urban health, the Academy established the Urban Health Journalism Prize in 2015 to recognize and encourage the growing field of journalism that plays a critical role in bringing needed local, national and even international focus to the issues of the broad determinants of health, health disparities, and strategies to prevent disease in urban communities.

“Mr. Hancock’s series skillfully builds his story around the often tense relationship between the community residents and the system it relies on for care,” said Academy President Jo Ivey Boufford, MD. “Mr. Hancock and his team’s comprehensive analysis and in-depth, on-the-ground reporting highlighted the racial and geographic disparities that can be barriers to accessing health care and contribute to major health disparities that often go overlooked in urban environments.”

To produce the five-part series, Kaiser Health News formed a unique partnership with the student-driven Capital News Service (CNS) at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. With Jay Hancock as the lead reporter, the team produced text stories, graphics and photos, published on the sites of KHN, CNS, PBS and NPR, and a broadcast piece by KHN’s Sarah Varney that aired on NewsHour. “Many AT CNS contributed significantly to the project, including Rachel Bluth, who has since been hired at KHN,” said John Fairhall, Senior Enterprise Editor, Kaiser Health News. “And freelance photographer Doug Kapustin’s photographs helped bring to life the community.”

Jay Hancock joined Kaiser Health News in 2012 after working for nearly two decades at the Baltimore Sun, where he covered business, economics and international relations. He has spent much of the last two years researching and reporting poor health outcomes and barriers to care in lower-income Baltimore. He has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Colgate University and a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University.

“Each year the selection of our winner and finalists becomes more competitive. As journalists are increasingly writing about the determinants of health and their impact on the overall health of people in communities, our job in identifying the winner and finalists gets harder and harder,” said Boufford. “This year’s finalists took on  critical issues with excellent storytelling and investigative skill that made our job on the review and selection committee a pleasure,” she added.


Nancy Cambria, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, for her February, 2016 piece, “The Crisis Within,” looking at the health effects of toxic stress. The committee recognized Cambria’s well-sourced reporting, well-developed characters and beautiful writing.

Michael Cooper, Springfield News-Sun, for his 2016 series, “Healthy Springfield,” chronicling the ways in which a community, Clark County, Ohio, tried to improve health. The committee recognized Cooper for the ambition of the idea and its comprehensive reporting.

Liz Szabo, Kaiser Health News, for her June 30, 2016 USA Today article, “Zika could hit people in poverty the hardest,” examining the Zika virus from an urban health angle. The committee recognized Szabo’s deep reporting, strong writing and approach of looking at a daily news issue through a different lens.

The winner and finalists were selected out of hundreds of eligible stories submitted, nominated and identified from local and national print, radio and television, by a prestigious committee of leading experts in urban health, journalism and city government who are passionate about improving cities and health. They based their selection on excellence in three areas: the significance of the idea to the field of urban health, the depth and breadth of the reporting, and the quality of the writing.

2017 Selection Committee

  • Len Bruzzese, Executive Director of the Association of Health Care Journalists, and Associate Professor, Missouri School of Journalism
  • The Honorable Mick Cornett, Mayor, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Max Gomez, PhD, Medical Reporter, CBSNew York
  • Shelley Hearne, DRPH, Visiting Professor, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Senior Advisor, Big Cities Health Coalition, National Association of County and City Health Officials
  • Howard Markel, MD, PhD, Editor-in-Chief, The Milbank Quarterly, George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor and Founding Director, Center for the History of Medicine, The University of Michigan
  • Alana Semuels, Staff Writer, The Atlantic and 2016 Urban Health Journalism Prize Winner
  • David Vlahov, RN, PHD, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Urban Health and Professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing
  • Brie Zeltner, Health Reporter, The Plain Dealer, and inaugural 2015 Urban Health Journalism Prize Winner

The 2018 Urban Health Journalism Prize will open for submission and nominations in February 2018.

About The New York Academy of Medicine

The New York Academy of Medicine advances solutions that promote the health and well-being of people in cities worldwide.

Established in 1847, The New York Academy of Medicine continues to address the health challenges facing New York City and the world’s rapidly growing urban populations. We accomplish this through our Institute for Urban Health, home of interdisciplinary research, evaluation, policy and program initiatives; our world class historical medical library and its public programming in history, the humanities and the arts; and our Fellows program, a network of more than 2,000 experts elected by their peers from across the professions affecting health. Our current priorities are healthy aging, disease prevention, and eliminating health disparities.